Published January 13, 2015
Justin Upton's solo home run in the eighth inning gave the Atlanta Braves their 11th win in a row, a 3-2 decision over the Washington Nationals to open a three-game set.
Freddie Freeman went 3-for-4 with two RBI while Upton had three hits and scored twice for the Braves, who increased their lead in the NL East to a whopping 13 1/2 games over the Nationals.
"The goal every season is to win as many ball games as you can," said Upton. "I don't care what kind of lead we've go, we've got to come out and win every night and that's our goal."
Mike Minor pitched six-plus innings for Atlanta and gave up two runs on eight hits with three walks and three strikeouts. David Carpenter (3-0) pitched 1 2/3 perfect innings to get the win.
It's the longest winning streak for Atlanta since the team ripped off 15 in a row from April 16-May 2, 2000.
Adam LaRoche and Anthony Rendon each drove in a run for the Nationals, who have dropped four of six.
Stephen Strasburg pitched seven innings for Washington and struck out nine while giving up five hits and two runs. Tyler Clippard (6-2) served up Upton's home run to take the loss.
"Stras pitched a heck of a ball game for us tonight," said Washington manager Davey Johnson. "We just didn't swing the bats good when we got guys on base. We really needed that one tonight."
With the score tied in the eighth, Upton led off the frame with his 20th home run of the year, a shot over the left field wall, for a 3-2 advantage.
Carpenter got the first two outs of the bottom of the eighth and Luis Avilan struck out LaRoche to end the frame.
Jordan Walden came on to close the ninth and Rendon led off with a single off the glove of Dan Uggla at second. Denard Span then moved Rendon over to second, and a wild pitch put the tying run 90 feet from home. Scott Hairston, though, fouled out behind the plate as Brian McCann made the catch right in front of the netting, and pinch-hitter Chad Tracy lined out to give Walden his first save of the season.
Washington got one on the board in the first. Ian Desmond walked with one out and moved to third on a Wilson Ramos single. LaRoche doubled to easily score Desmond, but Ramos was thrown out at home to end the inning.
In the third, the Braves tied the game as back-to-back infield singles from Jason Heyward and Upton were followed by a base hit to left by Freeman to tie the game at 1-1.
Atlanta went on top in the fifth as Upton singled with two outs, stole second and came home on Freeman's single for a 2-1 lead.
Washington, though, got one across in the sixth to tie the game. Ryan Zimmerman led off with a single and advanced to third on Ramos' single. Two batters later, Rendon played Zimmerman with a sacrifice fly to left.
MLB exonerated Washington Nationals pitcher Gio Gonzalez from any wrongdoing on Monday in the Biogenesis scandal that saw the league hand out 13 suspensions ... The Braves have taken eight of 11 from the Nationals this season ... Washington went just 1-for-10 with runners in scoring position and stranded seven.